Could the Tennessee Titans Draft a Safety 5th Overall?


Many draft projections have the Titans picking a safety with the fifth overall pick in the draft. But does that make sense considering their current roster?

With the Tennessee Titans narrowly missing the playoffs, Titans fans must find some form of sustenance to get them through the long offseason. And the best form of entertainment for the average fan in offseason mode are mock drafts. Fans can expect various analysts and football sites to pump out new draft possibilities at a steady pace from now until the big day on April 27th. And while the draft is still far away, I have already noticed an interesting trend among the early edition mock drafts: many of them have the Titans selecting a safety at number 5.

Why Safety?

I wouldn’t be shocked if one mock draft projected the Titans to pick a safety, but the fact that multiple mocks are doing so comes as a surprise. Recent mocks from sites such as Bleacher Report, Walter Football, and CBS Sports (and others) all have the Titans picking a safety. But why? Most sites list the Titans poor secondary play as their reasoning, but the Tennessee cornerbacks appeared to be the main issue, not the safeties. Da’Norris Searcy, Rashad Johnson, Kevin Byard, and Daimion Stafford all had a sizable amount of snaps, and performed adequately, if not above average.

Johnson and Stafford’s futures with the team are unclear, as they’re both free agents. But the Titans surely must feel good about Searcy and Byard being their starting safeties in 2017. Searcy may not make many splash plays, but rarely do you see him make a mistake. And I have a hard time believing that Byard, a 3rd round pick, would have gotten so much playing time his rookie year if the coaching staff didn’t trust him. Pro Football Focus even graded him as the best player in the Titans secondary for this past season. All signs point to him fully taking over the FS starting role in 2017.

Draft Possibilities

All of the mocks I linked to above predict the Titans will select Jamal Adams out of LSU. But I have also seen a handful that project Malik Hooker from Ohio State (Walter Football switched from Hooker to Adams just this week). Our own Will Lomas recently did a comprehensive review on Hooker, and profiled Adams this summer. As his scouting reports will tell you, these are two immensely talented players who have bright futures in the NFL.

But would either one of these players make a huge impact on the secondary? Some people would point to the impact rookie Landon Collins has had on the New York Giants and say yes. Hooker would most likely play FS and have to challenge Byard for the starting role. And Adams would replace Searcy, who provides a steady, veteran presence, and who Pro Football Focus rated one of the best safeties in the NFL just a year ago. I have a hard time believing that either one of these potential draftees would be enough of an upgrade to either of these current players that the secondary would be noticeably improved.

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Bottom Line

So why is everyone projecting the Titans to take a safety at number 5? Maybe it’s because of positional availability at that point in the draft. Talented DT Jonathan Allen will probably be off the board, and perhaps analysts don’t feel as if WR Mike Williams or a cornerback is worthy of going that high. Or maybe it’s a case of the small market Titans getting overlooked again. The gurus can do a quick check and see that Rashad Johnson was the starting FS on the depth chart in 2017, and ignore Byard’s playing time and contributions.

A more probable scenario than drafting a safety with the first pick is that the Titans select Jabrill Peppers at #18 to fill Daimion Stafford’s role if he leaves in free agency. That makes more sense in both value and in scheme. But, in the end, GM Jon Robinson is all about collecting talent. If he believes either Hooker or Adams is the most talented player at #5, then that’s who he will pick. But his decision won’t be based on the fact that Tennessee’s biggest need is safety, because that certainly isn’t the case.